MWO Display Settings and You: Your Configuration Settings

Thread in 'Hardware / Gaming Gear' started by Neolad, Apr 4, 2014.

  1. Neolad

    Neolad New Member

    I'd thought I'd throw this up as a little guide to Min/Maxing your gameplay in MWO, but from a slightly different angle...

    As you most likely know, MWO is powered by Crytek's CryEngine3. The engine itself has alot of potential, but, like previous iterations, it's always had the ability to bring hardware to it's knees.

    Your framerate in-game can have a surprising impact on how quickly you can react and can influence from frame delay to input lag.

    For any online game, particularly "twitch" or reflex dependant games, I always strive to lock my framerate at a healthy 60fps, with as many options enabled as possible. With this in mind, I spent an afternoon looking at each of the various visual options' effect on how the game looks an feels.

    This may be especially useful to those looking to Stream/Record gameplay and want to do so with decent framerate and without loosing too much quality.


    (Open Links in new windows and flick between them to see both obvious and subtle differences)
    Now, there's no end of changes between the presets, however it is very clear that the visual jump brom Low to Medium is far more drastic that that between Medium to High and High to Very High.

    Again, we see a big jump between Low and Medium. What's interesting to note is that there doesn't appear to be a drastic change between alot of the Environment texturing (Building's etc.) With the Mech and the Cockpit Texture taking the brunt of paring back.

    Medium See's improvements in the Mech and Cockpit Texture's aswell as the fidelity of the building to right. It also appears to enable a low resolution Bump Mapping to the Cockpit instruments, giving them a 3d effect as opposed to the painted on look that Low gives us.

    High up's the Resolution of the Mech and Cockpit Textures again as well as incorporating a much higher resolution Bump Mapping on our Cockpit instruments

    Very High appears to make absolutely no visual change to the visible textures in this example. Mech, Cockpit and Environment exhibit no discernible improvements.

    Here's another slightly misleading option. This is infact, a Level of Detail, which decreases the complexity of a 3D object the further it is away from you. In this case, the options dictate how much the detail of models is reduced and also the range at which detail reduction begins.

    As you can see, there is once again large jump between Low and Medium with diminishing returns the more you increase the settings. It's worth noting that this can be one of the most expensive options when it comes to frame rate, and reducing this setting can really pay dividends when your screen starts getting busy with lots of Mechs.

    The Particles setting controls the complexity of those wonderful effects. Every Explosion, every spark and every plume of smoke each has a determined number of particles which govern it's visual affect. As you can see from the examples, in Low and Medium, the PPC has no 'body'. Turning things up to High has a drastic effect on our PPC, giving it much more 'meat' -- [sub](I almost typed meta...)[/sub] -- Very High does nothing to the actual PPC beam, but included a much more dramatic effect applied to the environment and cockpit etc.

    There isn't much to say here besides the fact that Low is actually Off. No discernible shadows in place on this setting.

    Medium and High both look very similar. Shadows on the High setting certainly appear to be visible from further away than they do in Medium.

    Very High has a much more accurate Shadow Map with complex shadows casted by both Mech and Environment

    Here's an interesting Option. Some clear and obvious differences between Low and Medium, however, in this instance, simply no difference between Medium, High and Very High.

    In this example, I can see no difference between the Low setting and the Very High. Upon further investigation, I'm led to believe this controls the way the special effects interact with the Environment and Mechs, though further testing may be needed. It is worth noting that MWO employs a very slight Film Grain to the final image, check the sky an example. Very High appears to increase this effect, albeit slightly.


    MWO Currently Supports 3 ingame settings for AA. Off, Post AA and MSAA (DX11 only). Without getting into the various technicalities of it, AA is a method used to reduce "Jaggies", you'll often notice them on diagonal or rounded items on screen. Post AA appears to use the FXAA filter. This is can really clean up the look of Mechwarrior, especially with the highly detailed and angular models that inhabit it. It does so with very little performance hit. It can however slightly blur the image onscreen.

    MSAA on the otherhand is much more intensive option but will give a much cleaner look and without the blur. It currently only works on DX11, however at the time of writing DX11 brings zero benefit to the game and needs alot of work with optimisation before it will be of any use. Please don't be fooled into thinking DX11 offers any increase in performance or visual fidelity, in time, it will, but for now, leave it alone.

    The two remaining options are Effects and Environment. The Reasoning for this is that Effects appears to control the special effects surrounding weapons fire etc. The problem with comparisons between settings is that alot of the effects are split second affairs, difficult to capture and they diminish quickly. Since I don't have the sync hardware, or a timedemo/benchmark it play with, it's impossible to compare with Screenshots.

    As for Environment, I find this option has more drastic effects on some maps, but not others. In short, Environment controls the density of Ground clutter (Trees etc.) and the complexity of the landscape (Rock Formations etc.)

    I hope this is of alteast some use to people when tuning their settings to run optimally ingame, and time permitting, I'll be taking a look at the performance costs/benefits to each setting.
    Riscy and akani like this.
  2. Solahma

    Solahma Star Lord

    Fantastic write-up! The pictures do a great job highlighting the differences in settings. It would be interesting to have a database of pictures with each option on each map, then post them as albums to Imgur or something. Just a suggestion that might add some good references.

    Again, great job Neolad!
  3. epikt

    epikt Benefactor

    Very interesting.
    What I learn from this is I should play with all settings on "low" (except for the shadows) because I really don't spot any significant difference. At least in my opinion (maybe not in someone's who do care about graphics).
  4. enileph

    enileph Star Lord

    I just realize that I can turn down some settings, will probably reduce the strain of my DHS!! (for my comp not the mech)
  5. Cpt Chattahah

    Cpt Chattahah Min-Max Maniac

    Awesome comparisons. Very interesting.
  6. Thibideau Osis

    Thibideau Osis Star Lord


    Great information, thank you for taking the time to put this together.

  7. tfun90

    tfun90 Advanced Member

    Been meaning to look over this, bang for the buck/competitive edge seems to be all low except environment, object detail, and texturing set to medium. Definitely take off post processing for clearer long range shots and scouting. Also, I'm not sure which setting it is, but one of them makes the smoke disappear from the Caustic caldera when set to low.
  8. tfun90

    tfun90 Advanced Member

    I take it back, Object Detail set to medium alters the way a map loads in. Smoke on Caustic crater, additional shrubbery, etc. Death to Object Detail.
  9. Blagg Zear

    Blagg Zear Star Lord

    I collected some Youtube Clips with Max Graphics Settings to compare the Visual Change MWO has made over it's Lifetime.. It's pretty interesting to see how it developed.. Did it improve visually over the last 24 Months? -> NO! Does it run more stable? -> mostly yes. It's sad, that PGI didn't succeed in both - better Graphics AND more stable. o_O

    Oktober 2012:

    February 2013:

    March 2013:

    April 2013:

    June 2013:

    November 2013:

    End of 2013:

    Januar 2014:
    Last edited: Oct 27, 2014
  10. Blagg Zear

    Blagg Zear Star Lord

    June 2014:

    August 2014:

    2015... ?


    Did you know that MWO can run in Nintendo 64 Style?

    And did you know that MWO can run on Notebooks with integrated Graphics?

    Aaand did you know that MW3 still looks pretty good compared to some of nowadays F2P titles?

    Have fun with MWO and may the Graphics God be mercy to us. :p
    akani and skidog2k3 like this.
  11. Remarius

    Remarius Star Lord

    If I can be bothered I'll put some shots up as it looks nice in 2560x1440 at 144 MHz. Having one of those evenings were work keep phoning me up in a panic.... irritating as I only took 2 days off.....

    From memory didn't they do something graphically a while back as people wanted performance over graphics?
    Blagg Zear likes this.

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